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Media Law and Ethics - Essay Example

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Media Law and Ethics By [Name of Student] [Name of Institution] [Word Count] [Date] Introduction Since time immemorial, press freedom, freedom f speech and freedom of expression have been rather controversial and hotly debated subjects not only in the public sphere but also within the confines of family walls…
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Download file to see previous pages Newspapers are among the most affected modes of communication in modern times that have been adversely affected by the debates and the differing viewpoints taken by stakeholders in the freedom debates (Barendt, 2009). While some support an entirely free press, a cross section of society feels that such freedom should be regulated to some extent. That is, laws should be enacted to ensure that media houses, more so newspaper publishers are regulated so that they do not exceed certain limits that could endanger personal and public safety or engross on human rights and liberties. Those in support of total newspaper freedom assert that this absolute freedom must be sought through constitutional and legal protections although the norm is that there should be zero interference in the media freedom from overreaching state and regulatory agencies (Dean, 2011). However, the supporters of newspaper freedom concur with their opponents who feel that with regards to government information, certain critical information, classified as secret and sensitive due to their national interest and security roles should be protected from disclosure to the public. Newspaper publishers should therefore acknowledge that certain information must be controlled and secretly guarded for the sake of protecting the interests and safety of a state. Newspapers should be Free As a result of the sensitive and controversial nature of press/newspaper freedom, governments have established not only laws and agencies to execute certain press freedom-related tasks but also commissions of inquiry to look into specific events related to press freedom. In the UK, one such commission was the Leveson Inquiry, which Prime Minister David Cameron appointed on July 6, 2011 in accordance with the Inquiries Act 2005 to further investigate the cultural and ethical practices related to the revelations of phone hacking activities by the News International. The News International phone-hacking scandal is a controversy surrounding the defunct News of the World and other media outlets related to the subsidiary of News Corporation, News International. In this phone-hacking scandal, the employees of these related firms have been accused of engaging in police bribery, phone hacking and improper influence in executing their tasks of collecting information and creating stories. The public outcry was particularly targeted at News Corporation’s owner Rupert Murdoch whose company was accused of targeting celebrities, high-profile cases, victims, the British Royal Family and bombing victims in their phone hacking activities. Because of the resultant advertiser boycotts, the News of the World closed on 10 July after publishing for 168 years and the News Corporation cancelled its intended takeover of the British telecommunications company BSkyB (The BBC, 2011). The Lord Justice Leveson-led inquiry was thus mandated to inquire about these claims about the News of the World. Further, the Inquiry had to look into the initial police inquiry and the allegations that the News Corporation made illegal payments to police (Jenkins, 2012). The most important role of the Inquiry was however to review the UK media’s general culture and ethics. From this case study, it is imperative that media stakeholders recognize their role, responsibilities and influences in the society to act not only ethically but ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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